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When Kids Are Hospitalized, Parents Fret About Errors

Expert describes families as untapped resource in prevention efforts,,,,

FRIDAY, Aug. 7 (HealthDay News) -- Many parents worry that their child may be the victim of medical errors while in the hospital, a new study has found.

In a survey of 278 parents of children hospitalized in 2005 at Seattle Children's Hospital, nearly two-thirds reported feeling the need to watch over their child's care to ensure there were no medical errors.

Parents whose first language was not English were most likely to say they needed to be vigilant about their child's care. The study also found that parents who felt more confident about talking with doctors were less likely to be worried about medical errors.

The findings were published in a recent issue of the Journal of Hospital Medicine.

"We need to address parents' concerns about errors and find ways to make them feel comfortable talking to us about their child's care," Dr. Beth A. Tarini, an assistant professor of pediatrics at the University of Michigan Medical School and the study's lead researcher, said in a university news release. "Parents are an underutilized resource in our efforts to prevent medical errors."

Medical errors are linked to 48,000 to 98,000 deaths a year in the United States, according to the Institute of Medicine. Medical errors also increase length of hospital stay and health-care costs.

Parents can help prevent medical errors by being an active and informed member of their child's health-care team and by taking part in every decision about their child's health care, says the U.S. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.

More information

The U.S. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality offers tips to help prevent medical errors affecting children.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: University of Michigan Health System, news release, August 2009

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